The Empowered Committee on the Mullaperiyar reservoir, led by its chairman A.S. Anand, visited the site of the Kerala Periyar Dam, the new one proposed by the Kerala government on Tuesday.
The team of officials led by K. Jayakumar, Additional Chief Secretary of the Kerala government, explained to the visiting team that the proposed dam was a technically feasible proposition and the State government had prepared a technical report for the same. The government was also preparing a detailed project report, the committee members were told.
The new site is 366 metres away from the existing dam and 15 bore holes have been dug in the site as preparatory work for the dam. Once the dam is constructed, only 50 hectares of land will be submerged. There would be no considerable loss to vegetation as mainly eucalyptus trees would be removed, Mr. Jayakumar said.
The five-member committee has K.T. Thomas and A.R. Lakshmanan, former judges of the Supreme Court; C.D. Thatte, former secretary to the Ministry of Water Resources; and D.K. Mehta, former Chief Engineer, Central Water Commission, as members.
The Kerala authorities erected flags at the site of the proposed site to indicate the alignment and position of the dam. When one of the Committee members sought more information on the proposed dam, the Kerala officials refused to divulge the details and maintained that those were sensitive information. The government was going ahead with steps for the construction of the dam, they told the Committee member.
Kerala Minister for Water Resources N.K. Premachandran and Tamil Nadu Education Minister Thangam Thennarasu were at Thekkady on Tuesday during the visit of the Committee. However, both of them did not accompany the visiting team to the dam site.
N.K. Parameswaran Nair and James Wilson of the Mullaperiyar Special Cell of Kerala, P. Lalitha and C.N. Sati, Chief Engineers of the Irrigation Department, Kerala, and R. Subramanian of the Cauvery Technical Cell and Inter-State Water Wing of Tamil Nadu accompanied the team.
Earlier in the day, the team members visited the Mullaperiyar dam along with the officials and the representatives of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The team visited the inspection gallery, baby dam and earthen dam. The seepage and leakage from the dam was also brought to the attention of the team members, an official said. Later, the team members left for Kochi.